Insurers rapped over hidden costs

Lack of detail to help people compare the difference between paying upfront or in instalments

Insurers rapped over hidden costs

Consumers are struggling to compare insurance products because there is not enough information about payment costs, the City watchdog said today.

A review of 13 insurers and 30 intermediaries, including four price comparison websites, found there was often a lack of detail to help people compare the difference between paying upfront or in instalments.

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The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found a number of cases where firms failed to provide a representative example setting out the interest rate, a representative annual percentage rate (APR) and the total amount payable.

It said this was limiting a customer's ability to make an informed choice about how to pay and in some cases meant people were not aware of the additional cost of choosing to pay by instalments. The review covered the sale of general insurance products, such as house and motor cover.

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Linda Woodall, acting director of supervision at the FCA, said: "Consumers should expect clear information about the payment options available to them.

"Regardless of whether people choose to pay upfront or in instalments, it's important that they can see exactly what they are signing up for and how much it costs so they can decide whether they are getting a fair deal."

The FCA said it expects all firms to consider the findings of the review and take action where necessary. It is also following up with individual firms where it found specific examples of failings and poor practice.

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